On the mend: Mahendra Singh Dhoni could make eleven
Not long after India had booked their berth in the tri-series final, Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked onto the Queens Park Oval, padded up and ready to face a few throw-downs from fielding coach Trevor Penney. Earlier in the day, the injured Indian skipper had been seen running short laps and partaking in a few minor training routines. Stand-in captain Virat Kohli had added fuel to speculation regarding Dhoni’s availability, hinting that he might get fit for the final.
Despite the encouraging signs, the Indian team management has preferred to remain mum on the Dhoni issue. On Wednesday, it was Kohli who addressed the media while media manager RN Baba revealed that the team would take a call on the skipper’s fitness only later in the day, thereby prolonging the suspense.
Dhoni had pulled his hamstring during India’s opening match of the tournament against the hosts while rushing for a single. Initial reports from the physio ruled him out of the tour and the Indians even flew in Ambati Rayudu as his replacement.
But rather than return home for a much-deserved break from international cricket, Dhoni has remained in the Caribbean. So far he’s been playing a mentor role, walking around the ground whenever India have fielded or generally keeping the spirits high in the Indian camp, which after Kingston, had dipped quite a bit.
If Dhoni does turn up fit, then Murali Vijay is most likely to miss out, but it’ll be interesting to see whether the Indian captain will don the gloves or let Dinesh Karthik continue behind the stumps. On Friday, after India posted a big win over the West Indies, he also came out to greet selectors Saba Karim and Rajinder Singh Hans before indulging in a lengthy discussion with them.
And over the last two days, he’s also shown a serious keenness to get back into action, which is a good sign for Indian cricket as it proves that the body, despite having turned 32, is still fit enough to recover quickly from unforeseen tears and niggles. But despite all that, it remains to be seen if indeed Dhoni will lead the team out in the final against Sri Lanka on Thursday.